How the PR Labor Market is Changing
In the wake of COVID-19, the public relations labor market is evolving and will continue to change. In some cases, for worse, and in others for better. Nevertheless, I predict the industry as we know it will take on a new shape in the coming months and years.
There is currently ample talent in the public relations industry, but fewer jobs. As the law of supply and demand dictates, when there is plenty of talent but fewer jobs, agencies will be offering lower salaries compared to pre-pandemic levels.
I don’t see the PR labor market bouncing back from the pandemic until at least September and possibly later. However, when the market and industry do get back on track, I think the industry will look very different. I expect there will be more contract-to-hire positions and remote or hybrid (remote and office) positions.
This allows agencies to better prepare for a possible second wave and adapt to employee demands for greater remote flexibility.
I would suggest that agencies work with a core group of client-facing senior-level employees, while more worker bees are remote or contract workers. This will allow agencies to expand and contract according to the market. How long worker bees are contracted would ultimately be up to the agency, but depending on the future of COVID-19, these contracted worker bees could ultimately be engaged fulltime.
At this time, I’m surprised by how few contract and remote positions have appeared on my radar. Perhaps agencies still feel more comfortable working with full-time staffers who offer continuity. After all, it’s a traditional model they’re familiar with.
The truth is, employees and clients will come and go. In uncertain times, agencies should be incredibly fluid. Their hiring process and staffing should - and must - reflect that.